Lovers' quarrel 'set off deadly Paris hotel inferno'

19th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 19 (AFP) - Candles overturned in a lovers' row were the origin of last week's Paris hotel fire that killed 24 people, nearly half of them children, French prosecutors said Tuesday.

PARIS, April 19 (AFP) - Candles overturned in a lovers' row were the origin of last week's Paris hotel fire that killed 24 people, nearly half of them children, French prosecutors said Tuesday.

A 31-year-old woman, who is the girlfriend of the son of the hotel's owners, admitted that she accidentally started the blaze when she left the building in a rage early last Friday.

She was placed under judicial investigation - a step towards being formally charged - for "unintentionally starting a fire, leading to deaths and injuries", court sources said late Tuesday.

The French woman, identified only as Fatima, was placed in preventive custody for her own safety and to avoid "possible disturbances to public order", the sources added.

She "had gone to the hotel and made up a makeshift bedroom in the breakfast room using a dozen or so candles for lighting," according to a statement from the prosecutors' office.

"After a violent quarrel, which she blamed on her boyfriend's state of drunkenness, she left the hotel, throwing onto the ground in her anger several piles of clothes - without paying attention to the candles placed on the ground," it said.

The fire - the deadliest in Paris in 32 years - gutted the hotel, which lies behind the Galeries Lafayette department store. More than 20 people remained in hospital Tuesday with burns or injuries caused by jumping from high windows.

The woman was taken into custody Monday following a tip-off. Her boyfriend is among the injured. Two more people died Tuesday, bringing the toll to 24.

Seventy-nine people, most of them African immigrants, were in the 32-room building though it was only licenced to accommodate 61.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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